Ask what you can do for your country

Democrats can win a great landslide in 2008 to bring a Democratic president, Democratic Congress, and new era of patriotic reform and renewal similar to the years of FDR and JFK.

A JFK-like call to action will rouse a nation ready for revival. The answer to the negativity that drenches the airwaves is to treat the American people like patriots ready to do their part and make America again a rising tide that lifts all boats and inspires the world.

JFK said: Here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. His first words as president were that his inaugural was not a triumph of party but a celebration of freedom. He challenged the country to great deeds not because they were easy, but because they were hard.

JFK was the younger generation within the Great Generation. In his youth he was in the band of brothers and sisters that won the Second World War because they knew we are in this together. In his prime he stood at the gates of the Berlin Wall, rallied the world for freedom, and said of our enemies: Let them come to Berlin.

JFK pointed his finger to the moon; Democrats can point their finger to the earth and summon our greatest minds to create a new world of new energy that is better for the consumer, safer for the planet, and nobler for a world plagued by the dictatorship and wars of oil.

JFK called his generation to service and inspired young Americans to fight poverty at home, defend freedom in the world in uniform, lift the spirit of people everywhere through the Peace Corps and the Alliance For Progress.

Kennedy knew that for America, the force of our ideas can be more powerful than the force of our arms. He knew that America is the youngest great nation in history and our power is rooted in our unity, idealism and inspiration.

Let’s honor the fallen patriots who rest on that Wall in Washington and the last surviving members of the Great Generation, in their twilight years, who should be honored guests at the Democratic table.

Let’s begin the first day of the 2008 Democratic Convention with a USO-style show that would bring together war heroes, entertainment stars and members of the clergy. Let’s spend that entire evening supporting those making a better America helping vets, teaching in schools, combating global warming and fighting poverty with a show that would achieve huge ratings and communicate a huge message about the new era we seek.

Let the next Democratic president use the inaugural balls not to celebrate power, but for showcasing events to support great causes and great aspirations.

Let the next president issue a hundred Medals of Freedom to young people who make a special difference and name a prominent Republican, such as Senator Hagel or Warner, as Secretary of Defense.

Let the nominee state that half of senior national security jobs would be held by those with military service, so never again would war be so aggressively pushed by so many who lack it.

Kennedy would be appalled that thousands of our troops suffer death and wounds the Marine Corps called preventable, and outraged that wounded troops return home to face rats, mice, urine, feces, and threats and punishment against heroes who ask for decent care.

Kennedy would do something about it and we should, too.

Let’s start a “soldiers bond,” similar to the war bond of the 1940s, offering Americans an investment to finance medical care for troops, emergency funds for their families, long-term benefits for their health and education.

If the current revelations are a scandal, an even greater scandal is the potential $700 billion worth of long-term needs for those who serve that are unbudgeted today.

Let’s summon Wall Street leaders to back a plan; entertainers to promote it; Americans to join it.

Kennedy would rally, and so should we, 50 million Americans in military families, and men and women of faith, in support of our homeless heroes — veterans who served bravely and suffer hunger and homelessness today. Let’s make a moral call to every house of worship to end homelessness among vets and then wage a fight against hunger and homelessness everywhere.

Kennedy believed that when war must be fought, it must be a shared enterprise, and when war can avoided, it must be. He never feared to negotiate. Let’s be the leader for a Middle East peace, again, and the leader of the free world, again. Let’s end the evil of torture and know the only religion that supports torture involves the spiritual advisers to terrorists.
In a flashback episode of “JAG,” a brave Navy nurse said to a young Marine, shortly before she died saving her patients at Iwo Jima: “We are all angels with one wing, and can only fly when we embrace each other.”

Ask not what our country can do for us; ask what we can do for our country. If Democrats ask, a good and decent nation will rise with us. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, landslides are built on, and new eras in our history are begun.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bensten, and to Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He is a contributing editor to Fighting Dems News Service. He can be reached at and read on the pundits blog of